past Memorial Day brought forth the usual military idolatry. What makes it worse, though, is that this military idolatry is so rampant among Christians and in churches.

And just how can a Christian know if he is guilty of military idolatry? Simple.

Christian, you might be guilty of military idolatry:

  • If you send a care package to a U.S. soldier, but not to a missionary.
  • If you thank a veteran for his service, but not a pastor, priest, deacon, or minister.
  • If you can recite the Pledge of Allegiance, but not the Ten Commandments.
  • If you value serving your country more than serving your fellowman.
  • If you sing the National Anthem at a sporting event with more enthusiasm than you sing a hymn in church.
  • If government welfare spending bothers you, but not government military spending.
  • If anti-war rallies make you mad, but cadences recited in basic training don’t make you blush.
  • If you shed more tears singing patriotic hymns than hymns of worship about the person and work of Christ.
  • If you get more excited about U.S. soldiers killing Muslims overseas than U.S. missionaries preaching the Gospel to them.
  • If you pray for the troops more than you pray for the furtherance of the Gospel.
  • If you can sing patriotic songs without looking at a song book, but have to look at one to sing hymns of worship.
  • If you compare the death of a U.S. solider killed in combat to the death of Jesus Christ for the sins of the world.
  • If the murder of American unborn children by American doctors upsets you more than the murder of foreign children and adults by American soldiers.

And how can a Christian know if his church is guilty of military idolatry? This also is simple.

Christian, your church might be guilty of military idolatry:

  • If it asks veterans to wear their military uniforms to church on the Sunday before a national holiday like Memorial Day, the Fourth of July, or Veterans Day.
  • If it applauds young men who announce their intentions to join the military with more fervor than it applauds young men who announce their intentions to study for the ministry.
  • If it has the members recite the Pledge of Allegiance in church on the Sunday before a national holiday.
  • If it sends more soldiers to the Middle East than missionaries.
  • If it decorates the grounds and buildings with flags on Flag Day, Armed Forces Day, and the Sunday before Memorial Day, the Fourth of July, or Veterans Day.
  • If it has special military-appreciation Sundays.
  • If it has the members sing patriotic songs on the Sunday before a national holiday.
  • If it has the members sing the blasphemous "Battle Hymn of the Republic" at any church service.
  • If the sign in front of the church on the Sunday before a national holiday says that as the soldier gave his life for your freedom so Christ gave his life for your soul.
  • If it welcomes home U.S. soldiers from war with more enthusiasm than it welcomes home missionaries from foreign fields.
  • If it recognizes veterans in church on the Sunday before a national holiday.
  • If it offers up more prayers for U.S. troops to be kept out of harm’s way than for foreigners to be kept safe from U.S. bombs and bullets.
  • If it justifies Christians serving in the military because the Bible mentions soldiers.

It is no longer safe for non-imperial Christians who think the state should be separated from the church to attend church on the Sunday before Memorial Day, the Fourth of July, or Veterans Day. And woe be unto them if the Fourth of July or Veterans Day falls on a Sunday!

Christians, it is time to slay the golden calf of military idolatry and demilitarize our churches.

Originally appeared on on June 10, 2013.

  • bob

    I am a christian. I am a libertarian. I am a soldier. YOU ARE A DOUCHE BAG!

  • We need more soldiers who move toward Christian libertarianism. I’m glad to hear that. But that doesn’t negate that the military is often idolized in the church today, just like it doesn’t negate the fact that the interventions of the United States in other countries have been based on lies. I’m sorry that you feel that way, but the truth has to be said. Surely you do not really identify with any of the statements above, right?

  • bob

    Some are valid points, some are not.

  • bob

    On second thought, MOST of those points are complete crap and can be refuted easily. And its not that I “identify” with any of the points, but its that most of them are not even valid points or they are based on incorrect assumptions.

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  • Xavier

    I am a christian. I am a libertarian. I am a soldier, and I can agree with many of the statements made in this post. The operative words in this post are “if” and “might be”. These statements highlight the imbalance that exists in many churches with regards to their allegiance to the State and Christ. There is no middleground, you can’t simultaneously be a “slave of the state” and a “slave of Christ.” To praise veterans of war more than you praise veterans of Christian service is unbalanced for a Christian (ultimately to praise the work of anyone more than you praise the work of Christ is idolatry).

    Do I agree with all his statements, not at all. His statement “if the murder of unborn children upset you more than the murder of children and adults in war” is highly inaccurrate. More children are murdered every year by this country and others in abortions than those who die in war. Statistically speaking the outrage against murder done by abortion would outweigh deaths caused by wars. Secondly, it conflates the meaning of “murder” and “death by combat”. To say that our soldiers are purposefully seeking out children and adults to murder is ridiculous. The deaths of many of these children or adults are the cause of weapons being used against our soldiers and our soldiers being forced to defend themselves; in addition, they happen when soldiers are attacked by enemy combatants who use these people as shields. On the other hand, a doctor purposefully ending the life of a child in the womb is murder, it is not collateral damage, or justifiable, but outright murder. I am not saying that there are some deaths overseas that are indeed “murder”, what I am saying is that they are not ALL murder; on the other hand the vast majority of abortions are murder. However, if a church does relish the idea of Muslims being killed by soldiers, over and above the idea of Muslims being ministered to by missionaries than this is definitely idolatrous.
    American Christians need to stop equating their spirituality with their patriotism. This is idolatrous and not Biblical. The BIble is perfectly clear that we in this world but not of this world; that we belong to a heavenly kingdom and our citizenship rests there not here. Our allegiance to Christ should make our allegiance to the state look like a joke.

  • Fara Wiles

    Excuse me? You are a Christian and you have no shame in using such language?

    Matthew 5:22 ESV
    “But I say to you that everyone who is angry with his brother will be liable to judgment; whoever insults his brother will be liable to the council; and whoever says, ‘You fool!’ will be liable to the hell of fire.”

    I’m guilty of this as well, but you should know what you’re doing.

  • This one’s going in my file. Thanks!

    Memorial Day is a commemoration of the loss of life and limb in what have been for, the most part, ungodly military campaigns on behalf of America’s imperialistic military-industrial complex, at the behest of the International bankers. Because Yahweh, the God of the Bible, promises victory and no casualties when a nation is in obedience to Him and conducts warfare according to His law, Memorial Day is, therefore, a celebration of our disobedience to Yahweh.

  • Nick

    I was speaking to an elder at my church the other night after a Bible study. I’m newer to the congregation and have recently heard him make comments, and others mention his comments, that indicated he maybe thinks about the state in the same way that I do. So I struck up a conversation with him on the issue. One of the first things he said was, “Do you ever read”

    What a blessing. There is a remnant of those of us who get it. Keep teaching and preaching the truth in love, and trust God to awaken the rest of His Church to these matters.

  • marion

    the entire “Babylonian” wicked system under which we live can be easily brought to heel or brought down to the dust of the earth if people decided en mass not to join the military, police forces and/or run for elected office in this present anti-God and perverse system under which we ALL suffer either knowingly or unknowingly. come out of her my people and enter into your closet until the indignation is past.

  • If most of them are not valid points or are based on incorrect assumptions, then you should be able to refute them, as you say, easily. However, you have done nothing except make insulting claims. What is the deal?

    Socrates once said that, “When the debate is lost, slander becomes the tool of the loser.” According to your statements above, you have lost the debate.

    There is only one way you can regain your position. Refute these points in such a way that cannot be disputed. If you can’t do that, I suggest you sit down and be quiet.

  • porgiefirefighter

    I don’t like being labeled, but I am what Mr. Vance calls a “non-imperial” Christian. But, Mr. Vance, you do not have to fear for my safety around military holidays. I do not know where you worship, but my love for “imperial” Christian brothers and sisters is reciprocated in spite of my non-participation in “military idolatry”.

    I have participated in some vigorous and even heated discussions with my Christian brethren. Some have rethought their positions and reexamined the scriptures as to church and state – a few have been convinced, but many have hotly rejected my position. But none have abandoned me or tried to have me separated from the community.

    Many, many Christians that I know can easily justify “supporting the troops” while convincing themselves they are not participating in “military idolatry”. As much as I am appalled by this, calling them warmongers and hoping to shame them into change doesn’t work and is often counterproductive. Besides, trying to change their external behavior just turns me into a Pharisee.

    My church is filled with a bunch of imperfect followers of Christ and no one in our community goes hungry or unloved – with no litmus test on their position on the church/state or military.

  • bob

    You should go ahead and take that plank out of your eye. And go ahead and shut your mouth while your at it. I said I was a Christian, i never said i was any good at being one.

  • David

    I read Vance’s explanation of WHY the “Battle Hymn of the Republic” is blasphemy awhile ago. The song was sung this past Sunday and I felt like I was going to be sick. What’s aggravating is that the thing has a catchy tune so its difficult to extinguish from my mind. Ugh…

    I don’t have an issue per say with the national anthem or the pledge of allegiance, although I’m getting more and more uncomfortable with the pledge, and neither the pledge or the anthem (Or really any reference to America, other than possibly praying for it) belongs in the church. But the Battle Hymn isn’t just a patriotic song. It is, as Vance says, blasphemy, considering the historical context. Its unfit for anywhere, period.

    As for the rest of his points, I had the same question about abortion that Xavier had. I’ll agree that “Collateral damage” is murder, at least if we also started the war, and deliberately killing civilians isn’t even up for debate as far as I’m concerned. However, ultimately, we have killed more in the womb than we have in war, even by this very strict standard. Even if you count soldiers of other countries who were killed by American soldiers (I’m fine with doing so, if we started the war) abortion still leads to more deaths. So I think I may respectfully disagree with Vance on this one. I still think foreign policy is the more important issue, since it affects everyone’s freedom (Abortion murders millions, but does not have nearly the effect on everyone else as war does), its easier to change, and as the socially conservative Steve Deace said recently, a massive out of control government that doesn’t even respect human life itself will certainly never protect human life. But I don’t think that to question this particular conclusion of mine necessarily makes you a worshiper of the military. I’m not sure you can care about the unborn “Too much.” Gay marriage, yes, but the unborn? I’m not convinced you can…

    As for the rest, I’m pretty much in agreement, with the caveat that he says people who do the things on the list MAY BE military idolaters. Not that they necessarily are.

    There are, however, two exceptions to this rule:

    If you compare the death of a U.S. solider killed in combat to the death of Jesus Christ for the sins of the world. – See more at:

    And this:

    If the sign in front of the church on the Sunday before a national holiday says that as the soldier gave his life for your freedom so Christ gave his life for your soul. – See more at:

    There’s a lot of tendencies from imperial Christians that annoy me on Vance’s list, but these (Along with the Battle Hymn of the Republic, as I mentioned earlier) are the ones that jump out at me as being downright BLASPHEMY. If you support either of those two, you ARE a military idolater as well. The Battle Hymn… sadly most people don’t even know the history, but they should and if they do they ought to reject it…

  • Fara Wiles

    oohh sweet peaches.

  • buricco

    I’ve been compiling a hymnal for the last several months, and I refuse to include patriotic anthems regardless of my personal opinion of them, so no “My country ’tis of thee”, no “O beautiful for spacious skies” and certainly no “Mine eyes have seen the glory”.

    BTW, I actually have said, for close to 20 years, that for a Christian, to say the Pledge of Allegiance is tantamount to idolatry and blasphemy!